Bachelor of Social Work


This highly regarded interdisciplinary degree will immerse you in theory and practice over four years, equipping you thoroughly for a wide range of people-related jobs.

The BSW at UC is New Zealand’s most established Social Work programme. The programme is ideal for those who wish to focus their studies on helping people. Graduates provide professional assistance to those experiencing difficulties in their lives and in their communities.

Features of the Bachelor of Social Work at UC

  • May be awarded with honours
  • Internationally recognised qualification
  • New Zealand's longest-established Social Work programme
  • Graduates in high demand
  • The BSW has a strong practical component, leading up to 80% fieldwork in your fourth and final year
  • Field placements see students working within social service agencies and the community

Entry requirements

Bachelor's degrees require University Entrance to gain admission to UC. If you gained your qualifications overseas, these will need to be assessed to ensure they are of an equivalent standard.

For full entry requirements see the Regulations for the Bachelor of Social Work or use the admission requirements checker.

You are also required to meet UC’s English language requirements.

Qualification structure and duration

The Bachelor of Social Work requires a total of 480 points:

In your first year, you will take three compulsory courses in Social Work and four courses in Human Services, Psychology and Sociology according to one of four elective streams.

Entry to Social Work courses at 300-level and above is competitive.

In your fourth year, 80% of your work will be made up of field work. This is a great opportunity for you to put into practice the knowledge and skills you have gained. You will need a full driving license to undertake field work placements and must be prepared to travel out of Christchurch. 

If you choose not to continue with the Bachelor of Social Work you can credit courses at 100 and 200-level can be a BA with a major in Human Services.

Typical degree structure for Bachelor of Social Work

Year 1
PSYC105 or 106
100 Level SOCI
PSYC or SOCI 100 Level
TREO or MAOR 100 Level
Year 2
SOWK 201
SOWK 202
SOWK 203
HSRV 204
HSRV 206
MAOR 212
200 Level
200 Level
Year 3
Year 4
    Compulsory Social Work courses
    Compulsory Human Services and Maori courses
    Elective streams - Human Services, Psychology, Sociology, Maori and Indigenous Studies or Te Reo Maori courses

Each small block represents a 15-point course. However, some courses may be 30 points or more.

Recommended preparation

While no particular school subjects are required, a background in subjects promoting communication skills such as English, history, geography or te reo Māori is useful.

Statistics is useful for the further study of Social Work.

Volunteer work in the community is also good preparation.

How to apply

Find out more about how to apply for undergraduate qualifications.

Further study

Postgraduate qualifications

Career opportunities

Social Work graduates work in a wide variety of jobs, including as community development workers, therapists, counsellors, case managers, field workers, youth workers, probation officers, iwi social workers, hospital social workers, service coordinators, policy analysts and researchers.

In New Zealand, social workers are employed in both the state and private sectors, providing direct and indirect services. Direct services include those for children, families, the aged, people who have committed offences, and people with disabilities. Indirect services encompass social sector planning, administration and research.

Graduates are also highly employable overseas, particularly in the UK and Australia.

Find out more about what you can do with a degree in Social Work.

More information

For the full degree requirements see the Regulations for the Bachelor of Social Work.

For more information email info@canterbury.ac.nz or freephone 0800 VARSITY (827 748).

For assistance with planning your programme of study contact the Liaison Office (new students) or visit the Liaison Office’s course planning page (new students), or a College of Arts Student Advisor (advancing students).